Due to his 20-game suspension, Saturday's exhibition was the last game time action that Kilicli will see until he is allowed back on the court on Feb. 3, when the Mountaineers play host to Pittsburgh. The freshman took advantage of his limited time on the court. Kilicli was given the start in the exhibition over usual starter senior Wellington Smith and came out to score the Mountaineers' first eight points, going 4-4 from the field. The hot start propelled Kilicli to a game-high 18 points in 28 minutes of play.
"[Kilicli] comes in and practices every day and does a good job," said Coach Huggins. "We can't guard him so I figured they would probably have a hard time guarding him. We ran a couple of things early just to get him a couple of touches so he wasn't nervous. I think the guys were looking to get him the ball."
Kilcli joined a unique group of starters to begin the game. He got the first start of his career alongside senior forward Da'Sean Butler, sophomore forward Kevin Jones, sophomore guard Darryl "Truck" Bryant and sophomore forward Devin Ebanks, who made his first start of the season.
The Mountaineers got some surprising heat off the bench as well. Junior Jonnie West continued the solid play he showed in Anaheim, contributing ten points off of the bench with back to back threes early in the second half. Freshman Danny Jennings continued to impress under the basket with eight rebounds and six points, including a dunk late in the game.
"I take pride in rebounding," admitted Jennings. "I can rebound against anybody. That's how I feel. We should have rebounded against them. It would have been a problem if we didn't."
West Virgin outrebounded the Golden Eagles 45-26, and grabbed 19 on the offensive end.
Other big contributors in the win included sophomore forward Kevin Jones who had 14 points, seven blocks, and two steals in his usual solid effort. Butler continued to provide leadership as well, posting 11 points and four assists.
Huggins continued to use a variety of combinations on the floor and yet again was able to rotate the entire team into the game at some point, with one exception. Noticeably absent from that rotation was usual starter junior guard Casey Mitchell.
"[Mitchell's] knee swelled up," said Huggins. "The doctor said it was probably having four games in six days on top of flying and all that stuff. It was swollen so he hadn't practiced."
Mitchell has worn a brace in every game following arthroscopic knee surgery prior to the season.
After the brief vacation from regular season play, the Mountaineers will be thrust right back into the regular sseason spotlight as they play host to Duquesne on Wednesday and Coppin State on Saturday. They will then travel to Cleveland State before coming home to play Ole Miss on December 23rd. Despite the irregular start to their season, which has included breaks of nine and ten days between regular season contests, the Mountaineers are finally primed to get started on a more regular schedule.
"Coach said from here that it's going to be tough," said Jennings. "We're going to have to come to play every game. Every team has a target on our back."